A student from Manteca, California has settled a federal free speech lawsuit with her high school.
16 year old, Taylor Victor was sent home for refusing to change her T-Shirt, which read “Nobody knows I’m a lesbian”.
When she first wore this shirt to Sierra High School last year, school administrators sent her home. They said it was an inappropriate “on the grounds that she was not allowed to display her ‘sexuality’ on clothing.”
After confirming that the shirt did not violate the dress code, the school then told her that she was not allowed to “display personal choices and beliefs” on clothing because it could be viewed as “disruptive” or “gang-related”.
The Assistant Principal Dan Beukelman also told Victor that her shirt was “promoting sex” and displayed an “open invitation to sex”.
Now, the district has agreed to amend the dress code and clarify that students are allowed to wear clothing supporting their or their classmates’ personal identities. This includes race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation.
Victor’s attorney, Linnea Nelson, said
Being a lesbian is an important part of Taylor’s identity, and she shouldn’t be censored from talking about it at school. Students don’t leave their rights to free speech at the schoolhouse gates. At the end of the day, the law on this is very clear, that public schools can’t censor the personal beliefs of students just because they think it might be controversial.”
She says Victor will also get $1 from the school district to represent the harm she suffered.
But more importantly of course, from now on she will be able to express herself and to be herself without fear of punishment.
Victor said that she is happy after “months of fighting this censorship battle.”